A BIG win, a rush of exciting football and maybe even a turning point for Paul Warne.
Saturday wasn’t just the day Rotherham blasted fancied Southend out of the water, it was an important one for the manager.
Warne has had more than his fair share of down days and doubters since taking over last December, even though the deluge of Championship defeats were mostly down to forces beyond his control.
But after a summer of careful recruitment, punishing fitness sessions and painstaking preparation, it came right in a 5-0 rout that no-one saw coming.
The supporters got a glimpse of what a Warne team playing at full throttle can do and they liked what they saw. The positive spirit that the one-time fitness coach has always fostered inside the camp spread to the stands and it was like the clock had been turned back three years at the AESSEAL New York Stadium.
Loan striker Kieffer Moore, a player that Warne plucked from the shadows at Ipswich, lit up the afternoon with his hat-trick, the first by a Rotherham player since Kieran Agard’s treble at Wolves in 2014.
He and his striker partner Jamie Proctor typified the aggressive, progressive, fast-paced football the manager is trying to play, particularly in the first half when Rotherham ran in four goals and were, in the manager’s words, “virtually unstoppable”.
Hat-trick man Kieffer Moore fires in the opener.
After the defensive frailties shown in the opening-day win at Fleetwood and even the League Cup win over Lincoln, the clean sheet was an unexpected bonus even though the Millers did ride their luck as they eased up in the second half. They deserved that because over the piece they were keener, quicker and more incisive in everything they did.
Rotherham, or rather Moore, were quick to make a mockery of the pre-match predictions of a tight game, the 6ft 5in striker putting the finishing touches to two cutting moves, and by the time Joe Newell curled in a third on 23 minutes, Southend already looked a beaten team.
Proctor deserved to get on the scoresheet, instead having to settle for a hat-trick of assists, the last of which enabled Moore to complete his treble right on half time for 4-0.
Ditching his usual tracksuit and trainers for a shirt and tie, Warne looked the part and his team did too.
He wasn’t as happy with the second half and it took a sharp double save by Richard O’Donnell and a contender for miss of the season from Marc Antoine-Fortune to preserve the clean sheet, by which time Moore had laid on another simple finish for Ryan Williams to add the gloss.
The home players walked off to a standing ovation and strains of the old 70s hit, “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet”. Let’s hope so.
Richard O’Donnell 7, Josh Emmanuel 7, Joe Mattock 7, Semi Ajayi 7, Michael Ihiekwe 7, Ryan Williams 8, Darren Potter 7, Lee Frecklington 7, Joe Newell 7, Jamie Proctor 9, Kieffer Moore 9
Subs: Will Vaulks for Frecklington (65) 6, David Ball for Moore (71), Anthony Forde for Williams (77). Not used: Laurence Bilboe, Jon Taylor, Ben Purrington, Jerry Yates
A joyful Ryan Williams after making it 5-0.